Beautiful music aptly played a prominent role at the funeral mass of Martin Connolly on Monday where he was remembered as “a class act”.

World-famous for making the Kincora Accordion, Killaloe native Connolly’s funeral mass took place at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Ennis on Monday with the subsequent burial held at Drumcliffe.

Martin was also a highly respected accordion player and he released two albums, both of which are still lauded to the present day.

His work as a photographer greatly enhanced The Clare Echo since its launch in 2017. Prior to this, Martin’s photographs were a big attraction on The Clare Herald.

Speaking at Monday’s mass, songwriter and musician Oliver O’Connell noted that Martin’s absence would be greatly felt at the Fleadh Nua in years to come. Of Martin’s two albums, he remarked, “Those two CDs are absolute classics in the traditional music world, they are treasures”.

“As an accordion player you were class, your recordings and playings were class, your photography was class, Martin Connolly you were a class act,” he added.

Fr Tom Ryan outlined that ordinarily this first week of July would serve as Willie Clancy Week, a feast of music that Martin would have been a part of. He detailed how Martin “taught the gift of music” and helped many musicians to put All-Ireland medals to their names.

Martin Connolly. Photograph: John Mangan

According to Fr Ryan, the legacy of Martin Connolly would continue for many years to come. He pointed out that many people sometimes regard photographers as a nuisance but flagged the role they play in “trying to record the moment” and how at times of grieving the public often turn to images to reflect.

Different occupations of Martin were recounted by his son Karl, “everyone knew him and liked him,” he observed when speaking of his time as a postman. “A lot of people wonder why only two albums, he was his own biggest critic which often stopped him from doing things, he did things the way he believed they should be done” by putting his heart and soul into it.

Although he held a number of posts and had a wide range of hobbies, Karl said that his father would go into any project “in the finest detail” whether it was reading rulebooks during his time as a referee in the Clare District Soccer League or by trying to learn Italian when learning how to fix accordions. “I can’t put into words what Dad means to me, I won’t even try, Dad knows and that’s what matters to me”.

Memories of the “powerful” music scene created by Martin in Killaloe were recalled by his son Damien as he addressed the congregation. “Whenever he was around, he would bring up the mood,” he stated while applauding his father’s use of one-liners and how he was always a man to be relied on.

In 1991, Martin taught Damien how to play the accordion, by the age of 17 he had two All-Ireland titles won. “The attention I got from my father made me, I was learning music to hear my father’s compliments”.

After moving from Killaloe to Ennis, Damien spoke of how Martin created a thriving music school that matched the best. Such was the abundance of music in their house that Damien often had to get his homework done in the bathroom to escape the sounds.

In 1998, Martin’s wife Maureen died from cancer which left him “utterly devastated”, Damien admitted. “It took him a long time to get past it” and resulted in him stepping away from playing the accordion, a move he was content with. He was fortunate to meet Pauline who “he absolutely loved,” Damien added as he voiced his admiration for how his father fought so hard against illness and also kept his humour and his trademark glint in the eye. “I used to pray when I was younger that I would be like him because I loved him so much,” he added.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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